University Theatre announces Mainstage season lineup

Subscribers to the University Theatre’s 2008-09 Mainstage season at Western Carolina University have a full menu of laughs, love, tragedy, song and dance.

This season’s productions, each directed by a department of stage and screen faculty member, are the comedy “Plaza Suite” by Neil Simon, Shakespeare’s tragedy “Othello,” the classic musical “Fiddler on the Roof” and contemporary vignettes on love with “Almost, Maine” by John Cariani.

Subscribers will receive a free ticket to the annual “Spring Dance Showcase,” a popular favorite featuring a variety of dance genres and music. And all Mainstage theatergoers this season will have the opportunity to support student scholarships by attending a production of “The War of the Worlds,” a collaborative fundraiser by faculty from the department of stage and screen, department of communication and Honors College. Admission to “War of the Worlds” is $5 (with donations also accepted) and is not included in the subscription price.

Season tickets are available and offer theatergoers benefit including a free “Spring Dance Showcase” ticket and a substantial savings over individual show prices. Season tickets prices are $55 for the general public; $40 for Western faculty and staff; $40 for individuals 60 years and older; and $20 for students.

Individuals interested in providing financial support for the University Theatre and its student organization, the University Players, can become members of the Patron Club, which offers three membership levels. Go to The Patron Club for more information.

For tickets, call the box office at (828) 227-2479. For more information about the University Theatre’s Mainstage season, or about becoming a Patron Club member, call the department of stage and screen at (828) 227-7491.

Following is the complete 2008-09 Mainstage season:

– Sept. 17-21, “Plaza Suite,” by Neil Simon and directed by D.V. Simonian Caitlyn. This comedic portrait follows three couples successively occupying Suite 719 of New York City’s Plaza hotel, beginning with a suburban couple who honeymooned in the same suite years earlier. Then, a randy Hollywood producer invites up an old flame with different ideas. Finally, an increasingly desperate mother and father try to cajole their daughter, a reluctant bride, from the bathroom.

– Oct. 30, “The War of the Worlds,” based on the novel by H.G. Wells and directed by Steve Carlisle, associate dean of the Honors College and director of the humanities program. This production happens on the 70th anniversary of the original radio broadcast, which caused panic among listeners believing Earth was under alien invasion.

– Nov. 12-16, “Othello,” by William Shakespeare and directed by Claire Eye. Othello, the Moor, is a mercenary for the Venetian army married to the pure and innocent Desdemona. The cunning ensign Iago, resentful at being passed over for promotion, plants seeds of marital doubt in Othello’s mind. With its dramatic unfolding of love, jealousy and betrayal, the tragic “Othello” is among Shakespeare’s greatest works and remains relevant today.

– March 26-29, “Fiddler on the Roof,” by Joseph Stein, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, music by Jerry Bock and directed by Broadway veteran Terrence Mann, WCU’s Phillips Distinguished Professor of Musical Theatre. Based on a short story by Sholom Aleichem by special permission of Arnold Perl, “Fiddler on the Roof” is known for its humor, warmth and honesty. Featuring the memorable songs “Matchmaker” and “If I Were a Rich Man,” it is the story of a milkman trying to teach his five daughters the traditions of his tight-knit Jewish community in the face of changing social customs and the growing anti-Semitism of czarist Russia.

– April 22-26, “Almost, Maine,” by John Cariani and directed by Peter Savage. Smart, funny and endearing, “Almost, Maine” explores love’s surprising nature in a magical, mythical, very cold New England town. Through a series of vignettes, couples meet, squabble and reunite in a play The Wall Street Journal selected as a best regional production of 2004-05.

– April 30-May 1, “Spring Dance Showcase.” This popular, annual event showcases the talents of Western’s alumni, faculty, staff and students with a variety of dance genres and music. Complimentary admission to season ticketholders.